Grace and Faith

I consider it possible that this discussion is too much about words, or too technical, to be very important. But anything that drives the real definition of grace home for modern Christians, very few of whom know what grace means, is pretty crucial.

Grace is the power of God that enables you to … well, just about anything. Grace is used to describe the power behind spiritual gifts (1 Pet. 4:10-11), serving God acceptably (Heb. 12:28), help in time of need (Heb. 4:16), and resisting sin (Rom. 6:14).

Grace is not mercy. Mercy is God choosing not to punish sin or giving us something we don’t deserve. Grace is power. Grace teaches us not to sin (Tit. 2:11-12).

So grace, obviously, is this incredibly wonderful thing that all of us should want. Grace not only provides salvation, for all intents and purposes it is salvation.

How do we get grace? By faith:

By [our Lord Jesus Christ] we have access by faith to this grace in which we stand. (Rom. 5:2)

Ephesians 2:8 says it similarly:

For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)

The gift of God mentioned here, by the way, really has to be a reference to salvation in general. In Greek, as in most languages except English, the gender of a word like “that” (as in “and that not of yourselves”) matters. Grace is feminine, faith is masculine, and “that” is neuter. So “that,” which is not of ourselves but is the gift of God, cannot be grace or faith. That really only leaves the possibility of a general reference to salvation.

Either way, Scripturally faith gives us access to grace, and grace is really, really incredible.

A Little Rejoicing in Grace To Cap Us Off

That’s why Ephesians 2:8-9 leads naturally into Ephesians 2:10:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to go good works.

Another great description of just how great grace is can be found in 2 Peter 1:3-4 …

His divine power [which the apostles like to call “grace”] has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue. Though this we are given exceptionally great and precious promises, that by them you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Okay, one more; a favorite of mine, though not from the Scriptures:

For our own Ruler, the Divine Word, who even now constantly aids us, does not desire strength of body and beauty of feature, nor yet the high spirit of earth’s nobility, but a pure soul, fortified by holiness, and the watchwords of our King, holy actions, for through the Word power passes into the soul.

O trumpet of peace to the soul that is at war!
O weapon that puts to flight terrible passions!
O instruction that quenches the innate fire of the soul!
The Word exercises an influence which does not make poets;
It does not equip philosophers nor skilled orators,
But by its instruction it makes mortals immortal, mortals gods
And from the earth transports them to the realms above Olympus.

I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about why the early Christians regularly say that we’re to become gods. It’s stunning to find out such terminology was common in the apostolic churches, but once you find out why then you can get your breath back.

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5 Responses to Grace and Faith

  1. Monster says:

    I see. The fact remains, however, that I’m seeing that exact phrasing elsewhere. Your entire quote, word-for-word, was “for by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, lest any man should boast”. Searching for this exact phrase brings up 8 pages, which is not that weird, but still pretty weird. In contrast, searching for the typo version of Ephesians 2:10 (you typed “go” instead of “do”) only brought up your page. Searching for “it is the gift of God, lest any man should boast” supposedly brings up 13,200 results. Though as I go through the results, it looks like there’s only about 95 (?). If I did the search and came back with no results besides your page I would have just suspected a typo.

  2. Shammah says:

    Lol. It was a typo, Monster. I suspect, due to being in chemotherapy, preceded by a couple weeks of leukemia-induced insomnia, that I was tired and I skipped a phrase.

    I’ll go fix that now.

  3. Monster says:

    I don’t literally mean the exact wording “not of works”, just the general phrasing that mentions works. The quote you put in the blog post did not mention works at all (“…gift of God, lest any man should boast”), but the Greek text does, as you showed by the link you posted in your comment (“not by/out of/as a result of works, so that no one can boast”). Your quote of that verse in the blog post made no mention of the “not by works” part.

    As you stated, every translation mentions it’s “not of works”, but the passage you posted did not contain this phrase. I was wondering where you got that exact phrasing (“it is the gift of God, lest any man should boast”), as it seems there are a lot of people online quoting that exact phrasing as well , which is missing the “not of works” part. To me this indicates that either everyone is quoting from some non-Biblical source (maybe some originating web page, or an early writing) or a translation that either uses a different text or is not a literal translation.

    So my question is, where did you get that translation of Ephesians 2:8-9? Did you paraphrase it yourself or did you copy it from somewhere else? I see a lot of people quoting it online but no mention of where they got it from.

  4. Shammah says:

    I’m not sure what you’re thinking. “Not of works lest any man should boast” is the KJV English wording, which is the only Bible besides the NKJV that uses the Textus Receptus (I think). The Greek text I have begins Eph. 2:9 with “Ouk ex ergon,” which means “not out of works.” Every translation I know of says “not of works.”

    Here’s 4 versions at Bible gateway: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ephesians%202:9&version=NASB;KJV;NIV;YLT

  5. Monster says:

    What translation are you quoting from in regards to Ephesians 2:9? It must be a different text than the typical texts (Textus Receptus, Byzantine or Critical) because “not of works” is missing from the passage. I did a search for your exact wording and am finding only people quoting it, not any actual Bible translations.

    If there’s any text out there that does not include the phrase “not of works”, that’s a pretty major deal.

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